Forbes has a suggestion for those who want to reach their highest potential: get a life coach.photo_forbes

In an article called “Life Stuck in Neutral? Shift into Gear with a Coach,” the magazine notes that a growing number of people are seeking out coaches to help them attain personal or professional goals. For a definition of “life coach,” it quotes Darcy Luoma, lead instructor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Professional Life Coaching Certificate program.

“The simplest way to explain it is that a life coach is someone who helps you get from where you are today to where you want to be in the future,” she says.

Luoma makes the distinction between life coaches and those who offer advice, like consultants or mentors.

“Life coaching is based on the idea that our clients are the experts in their own lives, so we don’t tell them what to do,” she says. “Instead, our goal is to listen and ask powerful questions to help them achieve greater clarity and focus, and then challenge and motivate them to take action.”

Code of ethics

Forbes cautions that the life-coaching industry is largely unregulated. It recommends seeking out a coach from a program that—like UW-Madison’s—has received accreditation from the International Coach Federation. “Since its inception in 1995,” the article says, “ICF has developed a set of standard core competencies for life coaches and established a code of ethics for the industry.”

Participants in UW-Madison’s Professional Life Coaching Certificate program work toward professional credentialing through a nine-month series of face-to-face classes and teleconferences. The program runs September through May; see here for more information.

Forbes concludes by citing a PricewaterhouseCoopers study on the positive effects of using a life coach: 80 percent improved self-confidence, 70 percent improved work performance, and 67 percent improved life/work balance.  Such is the benefit of asking those “powerful questions.”photo_Luoma_Darcy